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Review: France cruise into the semi-finals while Uruguay crash out

Uruguay, which seemed to be the most organized team of the 2018 FIFA World Cup failed to find a way as France breached their fortress

AR
Last updated: 07.07.2018
France cruise into the semi-finals while Uruguay crash out | Sports Social Blog

Uruguay, which seemed to be the most organized team of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, crashed, burned and failed to find a way as France breached their fortress to enter the semi-finals, courtesy a 2-0 victory. Raphael Varane headed in from a free kick in the 40th minute while Antoine Griezmann’s shot from outside the box slipped through the hands of the ever-dependable Fernando Muslera to put the game beyond a struggling and Cavani-less Uruguay.

The game began, expectedly, in a cagey fashion with France dominating possession and Uruguay content with going forward on the counter.  In the 14th minute, Diego Godin headed towards the goal for Uruguay from a corner, but his shot was pushed out by a scrambling Hugo Lloris, with Cristhian Stuani waiting to pounce in case of a mistake. A minute later, Kylian Mbappe missed a golden chance when he headed over from a cross that found him unmarked in the box. For the next 20-odd minutes, France continued to attack with several balls floated and driven into the box, but to no avail as Godin, Jose Gimenez, Martin Caceres, and Diego Laxalt managed to keep the danger out. However, Uruguay too couldn’t make much progress going forward, with several misplaced passes. Lucas Torreira and Nahitan Nandez did their best in midfield, but it just wasn’t enough as both an off-color Luis Suarez and an error-prone Stuani could hardly penetrate the French defense led by Varane and Samuel Umtiti. France was yet to register a shot on target, though they had taken quite a few shots, while Uruguay had only two weak attempts on target that Lloris saved easily. France, though, went ahead on the 40-minute mark. A free-kick had been won quite a few yards behind the box and Griezmann stood over it. With a stutter that momentarily distracted the Uruguayan defense, he delivered a good ball which an onrushing Varane headed in to put France ahead, just as it looked like Stuani would clear the ball out of danger. 1-0 to France and this prompted some immediate attacking play from the South Americans. And moments before half-time, they came so very close. Suarez won a free-kick, which Torreira delivered with pinpoint precision. Caceres jumped the highest to reach it and headed it towards goal, only to be denied by an outstanding save by Lloris. The rebound was skied by Godin as the first pangs of disappointment hit Uruguayan hearts. At half-time, France went into the happier team, with Uruguay desperate for some inspiration.



The second half began, with France defending and letting Uruguay dig deep while they looked to hit on the counter. However, the latter showed no patience on the ball, trying to move the ball forward every time they got the opportunity. Usually, that would be a good thing, but here, it just involved a group of panic-stricken players trying to get a goal out of nowhere. France, on the other hand, was incredibly calm on the ball and were aware that Uruguay was clearly missing the spark that Edinson Cavani would have provided them with, with Suarez experiencing a terrible evening. In the 61st minute, France struck the final nail on the coffin. Griezmann powered a shot from distance that seemed to be a regulation save for Muslera.



However, the Uruguayan shot-stopper, a clear contender for the Golden Glove in Russia, let the swerving ball slip through his fingers and turned back to realize that he had committed a fatal mistake when the ball crossed the line. The celebrations were muted, but the French had done their job to perfection. Oscar Tabarez, who had turned this Uruguay side into a force to be reckoned with in the 2018 World Cup, seemed bereft of ideas and threw on Christian Rodriguez, who almost made an immediate impact when his snap-shot went just wide of the post. But that extra inspiration hardly lasted long enough for Uruguay to score a goal. Only Caceres, Rodriguez and Laxalt seemed to be trying to run things for the team, which still seemed to be recovering from that shock second goal. Tabarez also brought in Jonathan Urretaviscaya who did make a mark in the time he spent on the pitch but could just not set things in motion for the South Americans, who continued to misplace passes and simply hoped their long passes would land at the feet of their forwards. France, meanwhile, kept the clock ticking by remaining extremely calm in possession and kept the ball glued to their feet for minutes on end. In the final few minutes, even before the game ended, Gimenez was seen in tears and had to be consoled by Griezmann, his compatriot at Atletico Madrid. His reaction defined the one feeling of every Uruguay player and fan who watched the game: helplessness.

The full-time whistle was blown and Uruguay was out of the World Cup. France put up a brilliant, all-round performance to blow away the organizational capability and defensive rigidity that Uruguay had displayed throughout the tournament till then. Without Edinson Cavani, their hero against Portugal, the South Americans struggled to string passes together in the final third and lacked the killer instinct up front. It was a disappointing end to a promising campaign for Uruguay, while France, which initially looked shaky, finally seemed to be hitting top-gear and at the business end of the tournament, that is exactly what Didier Deschamps would have wanted from his team.      


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